Where's Wally, known in the United States as Where's Waldo, has quite a history. Originally released in 1987 as a seek-and-find activity book, it soon became an international hit, spawning many sequels, a comic strip, a TV series and a number of video games. Over a decade had passed between the last virtual excursion and Ludia's full retail release of Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey, which the company's adapted for download with Where's Wally? Travel Pack 1. Does the series benefit from going on holiday? Not really.
The title offers two modes, Story and Party. The former is the main meat of the game, which unfortunately isn't saying a lot. The narrative involves Wally going on a great adventure around the world to see its many places and to learn more about himself. During this time the Wizard Whitebeard notices him and thinks of his intentions as noble, and they embark on a quest to retrieve a set of ancient scrolls. Once you get past the introduction, there's barely any hint of story afterwards, and you are simply presented with a set of missions.
There's a variety of these available that can be as simple as trying to find Wally, along with other people and items, as you're to do in the books. Other missions have you spot the differences between two pictures, find swamp creatures set loose by Wally's arch-nemesis Odlaw, and take pictures with his friend Wenda to match up with images shown on the top screen.
Where's Wally proves a rather fun seek-and-find game initially, with a nice variety of tasks that can get quite challenging depending on which of the three difficulty settings you choose. These affect the size of your searching space and how near to your object that the game automatically places your focus. However, the title's biggest problem is its length. There are just nine missions throughout the game that on average take only a few minutes to complete each, meaning that the entire single player mode will probably only last you around an hour at most. There is also a ranking system within each level that grades your performance in stars depending on how fast you complete a mission; this offers some replay value, but doesn't add much content in the long term. It begins to feel repetitive after awhile, although missions aren't always exactly the same and do contain small changes in each playthrough, which is a nice addition by Ludia that helps keep the game challenging.
There's also a two player Party Mode available, which is new to the abbreviated downloadable release and wasn't available in the game's full retail version for the DS. However, there unfortunately isn't an option for Download Play, meaning that both need to have purchased their own copy of the game. The two opponents are assigned to blue and red teams and given their own Star Meter, which increases whenever they locate the items for which they're looking. Once filled up, Wally will reveal himself and whoever finds him first wins.
You control the game via the touch screen, using the stylus to scroll along the level and find your mission objective. This method feels like a natural fit for the series and the gameplay translates very well to the DS.
Graphically, Travel Pack 1 doesn't stray far from the art style seen in the book series, looking almost identical at times. However, a lot of the time you'll find yourself looking at still art with a few sparse character animations, which is rather dull. Audio-wise, there's nothing special here and it feels rather generic at times, though there's nothing that should particularly bother players or leave them muting their systems.
While it's by no means a bad game, players should approach with caution as the size restrictions on DSiWare have forced the designers to cut it down into episodic format. The content in this release is resultantly limited and may leave gamers feeling rather unhappy as they wait for the next iteration.